VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As blockades remain up across the country, some police officers may find themselves in a tough spot.
It’s likely there are some cops who support the protests, which means they may not actually want to enforce an injunction.
“Policing is such a unique occupation and profession,” Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief Dave Jones said. “There could be members who see this, but they also have to understand that their role here is, it’s not taking a side in this, it’s not saying we’re for or against, it’s an understanding of the need to enforce laws on occasion, to assist individuals, and sometimes your personal beliefs are put aside a bit.”
In this week’s Ask The Chief, Jones said officers understand their role is to protect the public, and that starts with safety. Steps taken to ensure public safety could involve enforcement of the law.
He admitted it would be naive to think there are no officers who feel conflicted when attending to protests for or against a number of issues, despite not hearing of any specific examples himself.
“Police officers are people, they’re part of our society and they have individual thoughts and they have individual opinions,” Jones said.
In addition, Jones said he’s prepared to reassign an officer who may not feel comfortable enforcing an injunction.
“We have options, there’s a variety of roles,” he explained. “I mean, even when a protest is going on, you still have to police the rest of your community, you have other responsibilities, right?”
There are a number of steps and protocols officers need to consider when in the middle of policing a situation like a demonstration, Jones added.
However, he admitted there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding what action to take in a moment.
“Our role here is, remember, is to protect the public, and that starts with physical safety,” he said.
“That could involve the enforcement of the law.”
Vancouver police arrested six people Tuesday after reading an injunction to clear the protest blocking the main entrance to the Port of Vancouver.
In recent weeks, protests and rail blockades have caused disruptions across Canada as demonstrators support the five hereditary chiefs who oppose a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline on the Wet’suwet’en territory.
Rail blockades have twice caused the cancellation of West Coast Express service.